The Sanctuary of Our Lady of Banneux, also known as the Sanctuary of the Virgin of the Poor, is a Marian shrine built after the apparitions of the Virgin Mary to a little girl, in 1933, in the village of Banneux, Belgium .The sanctuary is located in the village of Banneux (also called Banneux-Notre-Dame). This village is part of the Belgian municipality of Sprimont located in the Walloon Region in the province of Liège. The sanctuary is close to the German and Dutch borders. Originally a simple hamlet, Banneux has expanded somewhat to become a large rural town of a few thousand inhabitants. The sanctuary is built on the outskirts of the village
The construction began with a first chapel in 1933; the development of the sanctuary only really began after the official recognition of the apparitions in 1949. Many small buildings, chapels, oratory, steles and crosses were erected in the open air. Unlike other places, there is no large covered basilica, but an open-air esplanade, used for the celebration of services “when the weather permits”.
This Marian sanctuary is one of the most visited places in the entire region of Wallonia with nearly 500,000 visitors per year. The sanctuary, in addition to the presence of numerous sick people, has the particularity of offering an ecumenical activity and serving as a rallying point and devotion to numerous foreign or exiled Christian communities
In January 1933, Mariette Beco was eleven years old. She was born on the 25th March 1921 and was the eldest of a family of seven children. Her family, who was quite poor, lived in a simple working-class house, isolated and set back from the road, at the edge of the forest. In the evening of Sunday, January 15th, Mary appeared for the first time in the garden of the little house
From the 15th of January till the 2nd of March 1933, Our Lady appeared to Mariette Beco, a young girl aged 11 years, eight times, calling herself the VIRGIN OF THE POOR. Then so called Little Chapel was built and inaugurated in 1933.
The first construction carried out on the place of the apparitions, is a chapel, the “chapel of the apparitions”, built in the months following the last apparition, by the inhabitants and the faithful, on the “place of the supposed apparitions”. It was inaugurated on August 15, 1933, on the feast of the Assumption of Mary.
In May 1942, Bishop Kerkhofs of Belgium’s Diocese of Liege approved the veneration of Mary under the title of Our Lady of the Poor and approved the apparitions themselves in 1949. Although the Holy See gave the bishop permission to approve the apparition, the Holy See itself did not approve it. A small chapel stands where the Virgin of the Poor is said to have requested it to be built
To respond to the constant and growing arrival of pilgrims (the first pilgrims came from Belgium and neighbouring countries), and especially groups of sick people, an esplanade was created in 1939. Thus, even before the official recognition of the apparitions (in 1949), construction of what would be the future sanctuary was carried out on the site of the “supposed apparitions”.
In 1934, the Sisters of Saint Vincent de Paul (coming from Gijzegem) came to take charge of welcoming sick pilgrims. In 1938, accommodation for the sick was started: “Hospitality”. It was not put into service until 1946, due to the war. After the official recognition of the apparitions by the bishop, a monumental ensemble around the “Source” was inaugurated in 1958. In 1960, the Saint-Michel chapel was started under construction.
As you enter the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Banneux, the sheer grandeur of the architecture will take your breath away. The design and construction of the shrine pay homage to Our Lady’s apparitions and showcase the devotion of the faithful.
The main church is the centrepiece of the sanctuary, with its towering spires and impressive façade. The intricate carvings and stained-glass windows are a sight to behold. The interior of the church is just as breath-taking, with its marble floors and ornate altar.
But the shrine is not just limited to the main church. There are plenty of other architectural marvels to explore. The outdoor arenas for Mass are a perfect example. The natural beauty of the surrounding woodland only adds to the peaceful and spiritual atmosphere.
The shrine’s designers took great care to create a peaceful and calming environment, perfect for contemplation and prayer. The construction of the sanctuary took years of dedication and hard work, but the result is a stunning tribute to Our Lady of Banneux.
Our Lady of Banneux Apparitions in 1933
In January 1933, Mariette Beco was eleven years old. She was born on the 25th March 1921 and was the eldest of a family of seven children. Her family, who was quite poor, lived in a simple working-class house, isolated and set back from the road, at the edge of the forest.
In the evening of Sunday, January 15th, Mary appeared for the first time in the garden of the little house. The lady beckoned her. Mariette wanted to go out, but her mother stopped her and locked the door.
Banneux on Wednesday, 18th January, at 07:00 pm., Mariette was in the garden on her knees, and her hands joined in prayer. Suddenly she left the garden and started walking up the road where the lady was calling her. Twice she fell to her knees on the frozen ground. A third time she knelt near the ditch in front of a pool of water coming from a spring.
The lady spoke to her. “Push your hands into the water.” Mariette does it. She repeated what the Lady had just said to her, “This spring is reserved for Me, Goodnight, good-bye.” On Thursday, January 19th, the weather was severe. Mariette was kneeling on the path. It was 7.pm. The Lady appeared. Mariette asked her “who are you, beautiful Lady?” “I am the Virgin of the Poor.” The Virgin then led the child to the spring. Mariette asked another question, “Beautiful Lady, yesterday you said ‘this spring is reserved for me’ why for me?” Mariette pointed to herself. Smiling even more, the Virgin answered “this spring is reserved for all nations… for the sick.” Mariette replied “Thank you, thank you.” Then the Virgin said “I will pray for you goodbye.”
Banneux on Friday, January 20th, Mariette stayed in bed all day to recover from a sleepless night. At a quarter to seven, she woke up, dressed and went out. When the Virgin appeared she cried out: “Ah. There she is”, then she started talking to the beautiful Lady. “What do you want, my beautiful Lady?”
The Virgin answered with a smile “I would like a small chapel.” She stretched out her hands and blessed the child with her right hand. Then there followed three weeks of total silence. The Virgin interrupted her visits. Mariette however remained faithful: each day at 07:00 pm. she prayed in the garden.
Banneux on Saturday, February 11th, Mariette was on the road; she knelt twice, dipped her hands into the spring, and made the sign of the cross. Suddenly she stood up, ran towards the house and wept. She did not understand what the Virgin had told her. “I come to relieve suffering.” She did not understand the meaning of the words “to relieve.”
Three days elapsed. On Wednesday evening, 15th February, the Virgin appeared for the sixth time. Mariette passed on Father Jamin’s request to the Virgin: “the chaplain asks you for a sign.” The Virgin answered, “Believe in me, I will believe in you.” “Pray a lot: goodbye.” The Virgin confided a secret to the child.
Banneux on February 20th, Mariette knelt again in the snow, braving the cold. Suddenly she prayed the rosary louder and faster. She left the garden and knelt twice on the road, then again at the spring where she prayed and wept, “Because she left too quickly.”
Mary told her “My dear child, pray hard.” Mariette waited ten days before seeing the Virgin for the last time. She appeared on Thursday, March 2nd. Torrential rain had been pouring down since 03:00 pm. Mariette went out, it was 07:00 pm.
She was reciting her third rosary when the rain suddenly stopped. She remained silent, stretched out her arms, got up, took a step forward, and knelt down. At home, Mariette revealed the message entrusted to her by Mary. “I am the Mother of the Saviour Mother of God. Pray a lot.” The Virgin then laid her hands on her and said: “Adieu” which means “Goodbye”. Our lady of Banneux said good bye to Mariette on her last apparition.
On Wednesday evening, 18th January 1933, the Beautiful Lady appeared for the second time and led the little Mariette for the first time at the spring. The spring is about 100 meters from the Beco house. Water gushed from the embankment and poured into the ditch. A farmer dug the ground a little so that the water stagnated there: when he passed by with his few cows, they could drink there.
“Push your hands in the water,” says the Beautiful Lady to the child. We had to push our hands in the water, and to break the ice (it was -12°C!) before pushing our hands in cold water. Mariette obeyed her without knowing the meaning of this gesture. “This spring is reserved for me,” the Lady said. From now on, this spring at the edge of the road will no longer be an improvised livestock watering place. She will have other place.
And indeed, the next day, the Virgin of the Poor says that this source is for all nations, especially the sick. Banneux water is not intended for consumption, although it is true that many pilgrims drink it. The Virgin of the Poor encourages us to make the gesture of Mariette: “Push your hands in the water.”
Stained Glass Window
Stained Glass Window of the Annunciation is a masterpiece, blessed by Mgr Perier, S.J., in 1960. It beautifully complements the monuments of St. Anne and the Visitation, just across from the spring. The artwork in this stained glass window will leave you in awe, as you soak in the colorful depiction of the Annunciation.
The statues of Our Lady of Banneux
This statue holds a special place in our hearts because they capture the unique vision of Our Lady as she revealed herself at Banneux. With a hidden left foot and the absence of the iconic crown adorned with the words “I am the Immaculate Conception,” this statue looks like rare gem.
The Way of the Cross
In the wooded park of the Sanctuary of Banneux, a beautiful Way of the Cross invites to meditation. The 14 traditional Stations are enclosed by 2 additional Stations:
- An evocation of the Last Supper is found at the entrance of the pathway,
- The Resurrection of the Lord on Easter morning invites you to look away from the tomb.
The Virgin of the Poor promised, “I come to relieve suffering”. Also, the most credible promise is that Mary was there when Jesus climbed on to the Calvary and gave his life on the cross. She is there when he is suffering, and when he dies. She receives him in his arms when he comes down from the gallows.
The first stone of the current hospitality was put in place in December 1938. The reception of the first pilgrims was planned in May 1940, but the plan was impossible because of the war. The building was occupied by German soldiers, and then by children’s holiday camps. In June 1946, it finally found his true destination.
Over the decades, the hospitality has been expanded and modernised. There are more rooms, it has large dining rooms, a chapel, meeting rooms and a modern kitchen. It is obviously suitable for disabled people.
The Hospitality Notre-Dame is a set of three buildings for the reception of the sick and their companions. Currently, it has a capacity of 360 beds and allows patients to have an extended stay with the Virgin of the Poor.
Triduum is the name given in Banneux to the four days pilgrimages. These pilgrimages are organized by various dioceses of Belgium and abroad (France, The Netherlands, Italy, Germany, Great Britain, Hungar and so on). The first triduum started soon after the Apparitions.
Annual Feast Day
Annual Feast Day – 15th January.
The annual feast day of the shrine of our lady of banneux is celebrated on 15th January each year.
- Saturday: 04:00 pm (French)
- Sunday: 08:30 am, 11:15 am, 04:00 pm (French)
- International Mass: 10:30 am
- Monday to Saturday: 08.00 am, 11.30 am, 04.00 pm (French)
Rue de l’Esplanade
How to reach the Sanctuary
The nearest Airport to the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Banneux is Liege (LGG) Airport which is 22.8 km away from the shrine.
The nearest Railway station to the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Banneux is Nessonvaux, which is just 21 minutes’ walk from the sanctuary.